Bourbon Industry

After $55 million expansion, what to do with all that bourbon? A new release.

Brent Elliott, master distiller at Four Roses Distillery, amidst the vats of fermenting mash at the Lawrenceburg distillery. The distillery has added eight more, with 16 more vats coming, to eventually double bourbon production capacity.
Brent Elliott, master distiller at Four Roses Distillery, amidst the vats of fermenting mash at the Lawrenceburg distillery. The distillery has added eight more, with 16 more vats coming, to eventually double bourbon production capacity. rhermens@herald-leader.com

If the distillery is called Four Roses, then it only makes sense that there are four permanent “roses” in the bourbon bouquet, right? Now there are.

The fourth, Four Roses Small Batch Select, debuts Wednesday at the distillery’s gift shop in Lawrenceburg and at Coxs Creek. It joins Four Roses Single Barrel, Four Roses Small Batch and Four Roses Bourbon on store shelves soon, too. It will be a limited distribution for the first year, going out to Kentucky, Texas, New York, California and Georgia.

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Four Roses Distillery is releasing its new Small Batch Select Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. Ryan C. Hermens rhermens@herald-leader.com

Master distiller Brent Elliott said Friday that the bourbon will fill a “niche” with a flavor profile that isn’t really like any of the existing permanent offerings. The bourbon, which is made of 6- to 7-year-old bourbons, is 104 proof, and will be priced about $50-$60.

“The magic of this one hits where there was a gap in flavor profile and in attributes,” he said.

This is his first permanent release since becoming master distiller and the distillery’s first in more than 12 years.

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Master distiller Brent Elliott has launched a fourth bourbon to the lineup, Four Roses Small Batch Select, with a unique flavor profile. Ryan C. Hermens rhermens@herald-leader.com

“It’s kind of strange that bourbon’s been booming in that same period and we haven’t released something new,” Elliott said. They’ve done limited editions and private barrel selections but “this is it, this is the first one we’ve done. We really felt like there was a need now, consumers are getting more astute and demanding something a little bit different. What I’m looking at in particular are higher proof bourbons and non-chill filter bourbons. That’s really what we’ve tried to achieve here, is meet that demand.”

Elliott wanted to create something with a different flavor profile than other bourbons, although the genesis may have been in two previous special releases, the Al Young 50th anniversary and the 130th anniversary releases, both of which use combinations of F and V strains of yeast to give a nice minty herbal flavor with fruitiness.

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The historic Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg is celebrating a major expansion and the release of its fourth bourbon. Ryan C. Hermens rhermens@herald-leader.com

This version, according to the tasting notes, has notes of raspberries, clove and nutmeg on the nose; apricot, berries, vanilla and light oak on the palate; and a finish of spearmint and touch of cinnamon.

That comes from a blend of six of Four Roses’ bourbon recipes, using both mashbills and three of the distilleries five yeast strains (K, V and F, if you’re keeping track at home) to create a bourbon that is definitely Four Roses but is distinct from other releases.

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Both the column still and the doubler have been duplicated and added to the equipment at Four Roses after a $55 million expansion that doubled capacity. Ryan C. Hermens rhermens@herald-leader.com

The idea for this blend has been in the back of his mind for a few years, Elliott said, prompting him to encourage them to make more barrels of the minty F strain to stockpile it.

Elliott said Friday that the new release was made possible in part because of the $55 million expansion that will double Four Roses’ distilling capacity.

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The facilities at Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, photographed Friday, April 12, 2019. Ryan C. Hermens rhermens@herald-leader.com

But they had to wait until there was enough inventory to come of age. “Looking at our inventory and our projections, we realized we could step it up,” he said.

Now, Four Roses has its second column still and doubler online, with much more bourbon in production. So far, eight fermenting tanks have been added but 16 more are coming. In Coxs Creek, where Four Roses ages its bourbon, they have begun building warehouses to house all the extra bourbon, with several more planned.

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The distillery at Four Roses is celebrating a $55 million expansion that is doubling distilling capacity. Ryan C. Hermens rhermens@herald-leader.com

Elliott said that the new bourbon shouldn’t impact the special releases that Four Roses does every year, which typically take 150 barrels at most.

The James E. Pepper Distillery is now producing bourbon nearly 60 years after being abandoned.

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